Currently | We’re Packing…

by Kim on July 27, 2014 · 3 comments

currently july 27 2014

Time and Place // 9:50 a.m., for the last time at my desk in our current house. One week from today we’ll be in our new place!

Eating and Drinking // Blueberry Greek yogurt and blood orange cinnamon black tea

Reading // I spent most of this week reading How Star Wars Conquered the Universe by Chris Taylor (Sept. 30 from Basic Books). I’m, at most, a casual Star Wars fan, but I absolutely adored this book, which looked at the history of the movies as well as the ways the movies have impacted popular and fan culture. It was fascinating. This morning, a also flew through the third deluxe edition of Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn and others (a hardcover collectors edition that combines #24–36 of the series into one book). Today I’m going to start re-reading The Magician’s by Lev Grossman, in anticipation of the third book in the trilogy, The Magician’s Land, coming out in August.

Watching // I’ve been doing a lot more reading than watching this week (huzzah!), but when I did have some down time I started with The Legend of Korra (the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender). I like exploring this universe with an older protagonist.

Buying // Last weekend — when I was home for my cousin’s graduation party — I visited Half Price Books and picked up two titles, Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby and Greg Campbell and Making Comics by Scott McCloud.

Blogging // Work was really busy this week, so it ended up being a quiet week on the blog, just some short reviews of The Good Spy by Kai Bird and Hunting Season by Mirta Ojito. I hope to get a post or two up this week, but with moving prep I’m not sure how much time I’ll really have.

Contemplating // I blogger I really like, Kathleen Forbes (Kapachino) recently completed Whole30, a nutritional program that focuses on whole, healthy foods for 30 days as a sort of nutritional reset. Her before story sounds so much like what I am struggling with now — a little overweight, headaches, low energy, out of control eating — that I am going to  look into doing Whole30 myself.

Hating // Packing? Our packing has gone well, so far, but I’m tired already. I got almost all of the books packed — my goal today is to finish that up.

Loving // My favorite bookshelves are on sale at Target this week and (I think) we’ll have room for another one in the new house. More shelves!

Wanting // One of the things I love about our current house is the beautiful tiger lilys in one of the gardens. I have my fingers crossed that they’ll bloom before we move on Saturday.

Anticipating // I’m definitely going to focus on reading nonfiction in August, other than the three books in The Magician’s trilogy. Some of the books I’m most excited about are Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbot (Sept. 2 from Harper), On Immunity by Eula Biss (Sept. 30 from Graywolf Press), and What Stays in Vegas by Adam Tanner (Sept. 2 from PublicAffairs).


I have a shelf on my desk where I keep books that I’ve finished but haven’t reviewed. There are several books that have been sitting there for a month or more that I keep meaning to review… and then can’t find much to say about despite having generally good feelings about them. In the spirit of decluttering my desk, I’m going to dispatch with a couple of these unread remnants in one quick post. Here we go!

hunting season by mirta ojitoHunting Season by Mirta Ojito

In November 2008, a group of teenagers in a small town in Long Island attacked and murdered Marcelo Lucero, a 37-year-old undocumented immigrant from Ecuador. In the wake of Lucero’s racially-motivated murder, the town became a central location in a nationwide debate about immigration. In Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Small Town, Mirta Ojito uses this story to explore how hate can manifest under the surface of a small town and illustrate larger questions about our nation’s policies towards immigrants.

I was interested in picking this one up because I live in a small town that has a (relatively) large Hispanic community thanks to a couple of larger agriculture businesses in the region. Given that experiences, Ojito’s reporting on how an influx of immigrants can impact small communities felt entirely accurate to me. Unfortunately, the book overall felt a little flat — it just didn’t have the emotional impact I was expecting out of a book on such a difficult topic. I’m not sure what the reason for that is, but it was something I remember thinking after I finished the book.

the good spy by kai birdThe Good Spy by Robert Ames

On April 18, 1983, a bomb exploded outside the American Embassy in Beirut, killing 63 people.  The attack was a geopolitical turning point. It marked the beginning of Hezbollah as a political force, but even more important, it eliminated America’s most influential and effective intelligence officer in the Middle East – CIA operative Robert Ames.  What set Ames apart from his peers was his extraordinary ability to form deep, meaningful connections with key Arab intelligence figures. Some operatives relied on threats and subterfuge, but Ames worked by building friendships and emphasizing shared values – never more notably than with Yasir Arafat’s charismatic intelligence chief and heir apparent Ali Hassan Salameh (aka “The Red Prince”). Ames’ deepening relationship with Salameh held the potential for a lasting peace.  Within a few years, though, both men were killed by assassins, and America’s relations with the Arab world began heading down a path that culminated in 9/11, the War on Terror, and the current fog of mistrust.

As you can probably tell from the summary, The Good Spy is a book that has a lot of moving parts. As a result, it’s very information heavy, but for the most part it didn’t feel bogged down in relaying too many facts at the expense of story. The narrative moves along quickly, and Ames’ biography provides a useful timeline for anchoring a bigger story about the struggle for peace in the Middle East. This was one of the more comprehensive yet readable books on that topic I’ve picked up, although it may not be narrative enough for every reader.


Currently | We’re Moving!

July 20, 2014 Currently

Briefly // The boyfriend and I are moving! We signed a lease on a new rental house last weekend and are gearing up to move into the new place on August 2. It’s quick, trust me, I know. I’m not sure what that is going to mean for the blog over the next month or so, […]

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Nonfiction Recommendation Engine: Bananas and Presidents

July 17, 2014 Nonfiction Recommendation Engine

The Nonfiction Recommendation Engine is a semi-regular feature in which I offer personalized book recommendations based answers to a short list of questions. My real hope with the series is that other readers will jump in with recommendations in the comments, making each post a great resource for nonfiction reads.  One of my friends from high […]

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Thoughts on Two Trilogies I Loved Reading

July 15, 2014 Book Review

This set of mini-reviews is a little different that others — I’m going to talk about two recently-completed trilogies that I’ve enjoyed since the first books came out. The first is a YA fantasy series where the magical elite, the Grisha, manipulate matter down to the very atom to summon and mold the basic elements in […]

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Currently | Festival Weekend

July 13, 2014 Currently

Briefly // Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes on last week’s Currently post. I had a nice day off on Monday and a generally chill day on my actual birthday, Tuesday. Twenty eight is gearing up to be a good year. Time and Place // About 8:45 a.m. at my desk. This weekend is our […]

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Giveaway: ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ by Katy Butler

July 11, 2014 News and Notes

On Wednesday, I shared a post with three books on the business of death. After the post went up, Katy Butler, author of Knocking on Heaven’s Door, contacted me about doing a giveaway of the book here at the blog. I loved the book (here’s my review from last September) and think the book should get […]

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Buy, Borrow, Bypass: Bring Out Your Dead!

July 9, 2014 Book Review

This post originally appeared on Book Riot. In “Buy, Borrow, Bypass,” Book Riot contributors give brief reviews of their recent reads and advise whether you should buy, borrow, or bypass them. I’ve always had a bit of a dark streak in my reading life. I love a good true crime story and often pick up memoirs […]

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Currently | The Last Day I’m 27

July 7, 2014 Currently

Time and Place // About 9 a.m. at my desk at home. The company I work for gives employees an extra day off for their birthday each year. Mine is technically tomorrow, but I decided to take my vacation day so I can recover from vacation for the Fourth of July. I have an exciting […]

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Books for My Beach Bag: Summer 2014 Edition

July 3, 2014 Musings

Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Every year that I can, I join my family and a ton of friends up my my parents’ cabin in northwestern Wisconsin for a long weekend of relaxing by the lake. Since it’s right before my birthday, it’s always felt like a special weekend […]

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